Saturday, March 12, 2005


So, yesterday. Supposed to be test prep, and I got some activities off the test-score site, and was all ready.

Class A had to take yet another assessment test. Before and at the end, they would not shut up. I finally gave them a pop quiz as a consequence. It started as 5 questions, but since they insisted on not shutting their mouths, it got up to TEN. And of course I made the questions difficult. Well, difficult for them. I did two geography questions: Name two states that border New York (some answers: Boston, Brooklyn, Long Island), and Name three states that border the Pacific Ocean (many answers: Texas, Arizona, Massachusetts, Virginia). I asked who the current Secretary of State is (answers: Colin Powell--impressive but still incorrect, and MANY Ms. Bush).

So all in all, it was a frustrating start to the day.

Class B did not have to have a quiz, but they were only one chance away from one. What I did was write "POP" on the board and cross a letter off each time they were talking/not behaving properly. Those first two went in the first ten minutes, too. Bastards.

We got some work done, though. I gave a chart about author's purpose. We did some sample passages together; I read the passage to them and let them answer the question in their own words. To get them thinking, you know. Then I read the passage again and gave the question AND the answer choices. They wrote down their answer and then we shared. We discussed why each was either the best or not the best answer.

When I came back into my room, Class C was there, and had been there without me, just like they are three other days of the week. I didn't immediately jump on them to sit down and stay quiet, because I had to stand at my desk, arms crossed, surveying for my anecdote book. I got more and more angry, stalking around, picking up piles and moving stuff around. Eventually I spotted it lying on the groung--most decidedly not where I had left it. When I opened it, sure enough, several pages were ripped.

I was incensed and utterly livid. I shouted for quiet and snarled that for the THIRD TIME my book had been stolen and ripped. I told them that since this happened when I was out of the room, I would be giving them ALL detention. Well, those snotty little bastards piped up, "that's not fair!" blah blah blah. I yelled, "EXCUSE ME?! I'll tell you what's NOT FAIR--that I can't trust ANYONE in this class to RESPECT my property anytime I'm out of the room! It's ONLY fair to punish everyone until someone steps forward!"

It was all I could do not to swear up a storm--and I told them that. Seriously, I wanted to be all, "Look, you assholes--DON'T TOUCH MY GODDAMNED SHIT. EVER." Somehow, with inhuman strength, I refrained from cursing. At one point, I told two students that, "this is effed the heck up." They looked at me and then at each other with wide-eyed, shocked faces. I said, "Oh hush, all you heard was the letter f." As I said, I was extremely upset.

Anyway, so then some of them started piping up that they saw R around my desk, moving something, ripping and then restapling something, etc etc. I asked where he was, and they cried, "We don't know! He left!" So I told them to write it all down, whatever they saw, with the date, their names and class number. We collected those and I told them that it all would be used as evidence against R.

I was so irritated that I just couldn't stand it. I sat on a desk at the front of them and leveled with them.

I started by affirming that I'm actually a reasonable person. "Actually, I used to be a nice person too, before I came here." I said that I have a lot to share with them, a lot to teach them, and that it's a privilege to be in my classroom. I told them that one person has already lost that privilege (R, if I have anything to say about it. The admin are aware of the issues with him and my class, and I will be turning in a written report along with the students' testimonials). I told them that I don't want any other people to lose that privilege. I said that I was looking forward to seeing what they know and seeing them succeed. I told them, "I have high expectations, for me and for you. Even if we don't all reach all of them, we'll still at least be striving for something."

I told them about how my parents were divorced, I had to constantly shuttle back and forth, and all my stuff was never all together, and especially with my bratty little brother, my things were always being messed with, and I hated it. I said, "Look, as a person, I just can't stand people touching my things or messing with them. Not even as a teacher, but just me, it really bothers me." Then I talked about how respect is the most important thing to me, teacher or no. I told them, "We all have to live in this room. I would never DREAM of coming to your house and leaving food on the floor of your kitchen. I KNOW your mother would die if she heard that you went to someone else's house and left it a mess. So show some respect to me and my classroom. That means following directions. That means listening when I'm talking to you. That means not leaving trash and food inside the desks. That means not putting your hands on other people or their property. And it means don't touch my stuff." I told them that I was just exasperated. And I told them that meant totally fed up. (You know me and using all those fancy big words...What was funny was that after I said it two times, I forgot how to say it; I wanted to say 'exacerbated,' which is a completely different kind of word-heh.)

After I finished my spiel, I asked them what they were thinking. I guess I can be optimistic and say that they made 'text to self connections,' because all they talked about was their own brothers and sisters and how much they sucked or were evil or whatever. I was amused by some of it.

And that was how we spent seventh period. After I talked about respecting the room, three boys jumped up and asked if they could use the brooms and clean up the room. I readily agreed. They did a very thorough job, too.

Eighth period, I showed them the author's purpose chart and we did some of the sample passages. There were several more disruptions, but I was too worn out and defeated to care much.

Just so you don't mistakenly think that I'm a purely evil bitch 24/7, I will give them (most of them, anyway) credit for being quiet and listening attentively while I was talking/lecturing them. When a couple kids talked or whatever, I just stopped talking and waited, shaking my head, a weary, worn look upon my visage. Several students shouted out, "Shut UP!" and "She's waiting!" "Show some respect!" So the frankness hopefully helped get a few more of them 'on my side.'

Like I said yesterday: Not the most fantastic day, Friday.

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